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Treasure chest of interdisciplinary and year-round Arctic climate system data publicly available

Drift tracks of the Central Observatories (CO) of MOSAiC in 2019–2020 (Nicolaus et al., 2022; CC-BY 4.0).

The year-round expedition into the central Arctic called “Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate” (MOSAiC) explored the Arctic climate system to gain fundamental insights that are key to a better understanding of global climate change. While anchored to a sea-ice floe, the German research icebreaker Polarstern passively drifted with the Transpolar Drift across the central Arctic Ocean towards Fram Strait from September 2019 to October 2020. An international and interdisciplinary team of over 400 experts from 20 different nations took part in the different phases of the field and more than 300 people worked in the background to make the expedition possible.

Observations from this extremely harsh and remote environment are traditionally scarce, especially in winter. MOSAiC carried out a comprehensive measurement program that focused on capturing the full annual cycle of the Arctic sea ice, the snow and the atmosphere above it, the underlying ocean, as well as the associated ecosystem and biogeochemistry. In addition, a distributed regional network of observational sites utilizing autonomous measurement devices was set up on the sea ice covering an area of up to about 50 km distance from Polarstern. These unique measurements are essential in improving and validating satellite remote sensing methods and modeling capabilities, thus reducing their uncertainties.

While working at the Alfred Wegener Institute, the research institute spearheading the expedition, researcher Arttu Jutila took part in the second leg of the MOSAiC expedition through the dark and cold mid-winter, measuring the physical properties of snow and sea ice. He has authored several datasets and associated data descriptor publications have been published in the high-impact Nature journal Scientific Data (listed below). He has now brought this knowledge to the Earth Observation Research unit of the Space and Earth Observation Centre of FMI, where he has been working since summer 2023.

More information

MOSAiC expedition web page:

Arttu Jutila, researcher, Finnish Meteorological Institute,

Publications in Scientific Data (Nature)

Clemens-Sewall, D., Polashenski, C., Raphael, I. A., Parno, M., Perovich, D., Itkin, P., Jaggi, M., Jutila, A., Macfarlane, A. R., Matero, I. S. O., Oggier, M., Visser, R. J. W., and Wagner, D. N.: High-resolution repeat topography of drifting ice floes in the Arctic Ocean from terrestrial laser scanning, Scientific Data, 11,, 2024.

Hutter, N.*, Hendricks, S.*, Jutila, A.*, Ricker, R., von Albedyll, L., Birnbaum, G. & Haas, C. Digital elevation models of the sea-ice surface from airborne laser scanning during MOSAiC. Scientific Data 10,, 2023. *These authors contributed equally to this work.

Neckel, N., Fuchs, N., Birnbaum, G., Hutter, N., Jutila, A., Buth, L., von Albedyll, L., Ricker, R., and Haas, C.:  Helicopter-borne RGB orthomosaics and photogrammetric digital elevation models from the MOSAiC Expedition, Scientific Data, 10,, 2023.

Thielke, L., Huntemann, M., Hendricks, S., Jutila, A., Ricker, R., and Spreen, G.: Sea ice surface temperatures from helicopter-borne thermal infrared imaging during the MOSAiC expedition, Scientific Data, 9,, 2022.

Data and research papers

Accessible at, the MOSAiC data repositories contain an abundance of data for public use.

A list of published research papers associated with MOSAiC can be found at

Overview publications by theme

Nicolaus, M. et al. Overview of the MOSAiC expedition: Snow and sea ice. Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene 10(1), 000046., 2022.

Rabe, B. et al. Overview of the MOSAiC expedition: Physical oceanography. Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene 10(1), 00062., 2022.

Shupe, M.D. et al. Overview of the MOSAiC expedition: Atmosphere. Elementa, Science of the Anthropocene, 10(1), 00060., 2022.

Fong, A.A. et al. Overview of the MOSAiC expedition: Ecosystem. Under review at Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene [preprint]., 2023.

Damm, E. et al. Overview of the MOSAiC expedition: Biogeochemistry. In preparation for Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene.

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